In the wake of an incredibly unpopular budget last year, the government has done a good job of leaking most of its major changes in the lead up to this year’s federal budget. Where last year’s budget promised huge cuts, this budget takes a more Keynesian approach with money to spent to improve the state of our economy.
And in the end it’s a hefty document. You could choke our editor Finbar with it and he ate a whole dog once. Here’s what we know; expect more as we work our way through the particulars.
– Four weeks wait for the unemployment benefits for job seekers under-25. Last year, the 204 budget proposed under-30s seeking Newstart or Youth Allowance would have to wait six months before being eligible for unemployment benefits. The 2015 budget will propose this waiting period being limited to one month for under-25s.
– $60 million to prepare Department of Human Services for digital era. The money is to prepare the DHS for the “demands of today’s digital world“. Does this mean more services online?
– $4.8 billion to help unemployed Indigenous Australians. The money will be used to help Indigenous Australians enter the workforce.
– Newstart eligibility age to lift from 22 to 25. From 1 July 2016, job seekers under 25 will not be eligible for Newstart payments. But people currently receiving Newstart “aged 22 to 24 years of age on 30 June 2016, will remain on those allowances.”
– $1.3 million to Geelong employment centre. The money will go to the Geelong Employment Facilitator aka the Facilitator to help people affected by the devastating industry closures in the Greater Geelong area find new jobs.
– The government will continue to collect HELP fees from citizens overseas. The government expects to collect $26 million over four years from 2015 from Australians who have lived overseas longer than six months. Currently, Australians who live overseas do not have to repay their education loans. Be grateful, the Grattan Institute wrote this in their paper on addressing student loan debt, which included collecting it off the estates of the dead.
– More money for apprentices and tradies. The government will spend $644 million on apprentices including $7,500 for potential employers to take on and train unemployed young people.
– $2 billion in health cuts. The government will cut down the health system over the next five years as they move towards a system which allocates funding based off population growth and inflation. $34 million will be allocated to taskforces which will examine the Medicare system, think stopping-rorts, ‘double-dipping’ and cutting red tape.
– The GP co-payment is scrapped. The government will no longer try to push for the controversial GP co-payment which would have had people pay $7 to see a doctor. This money was originally earmarked for a ‘Medical Research Super Fund’ which will now receive its money from elsewhere, with the budget predicting the fund to be worth $20 billion by 2020.
– Twice-yearly Pap tests scrapped. Instead the government will reduce funding for screenings for the Human Papilloma Virus for plus-25s from twice-yearly to once every five years, costing only $13,000. As Crikey’s Sally Whyte puts it, “that’s like finding change down the back of the couch“.
OTHER THINGS WHICH MAY MATTER TO YOU
– The ‘Netflix tax’. From 1 July 2015, digital downloads and purchases (films, books, Netflix etc) will be subject to GST. The government hopes to raise $350 million over the next four years to be distributed to the states and territories.
– $131 million for telcos and ISPs to retain your metadata. As part of the governments $450 million intelligence security package, $131 million will be given to telecommunication companies in Australia to build and maintain the infrastructure necessary to store your metadata. However, it’s likely service providers will pass the cost to customers. PS Below is an actual graphic from the budget papers.
– Passport fees will go up. The government will ramp up revenue from passports by creating different fee categories for emergency passports and will remove penalties for getting your passport lost or stolen by creating a seperate ‘passport replacement option’.